TABOR: attractive to business leaders as voters, less so as university administrators

Top-dog prominent Colorado business leader and state Republican Party giant Bruce Benson voted for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in 1992, joining in the effort to limit state government and to slow down taxing and spending. Now, as CU President, Benson is, meh, not so sure about all that. Along with fellow business leader and new CSU chancellor Joe Blake, Benson is beating the bushes to do something fast about the funding crisis plaguing public higher education in Colorado.

The Denver Post:

Less than a month after officially taking the reins at Colorado State University, Tony Frank and Joe Blake hit the road this week to carry a message of need to business groups in Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs.

And Gov. Bill Ritter, Blake and University of Colorado president Bruce Benson recently discussed building a team to focus attention on the finances of the state’s universities, CU Regents spokesman Ken McConnellogue said.


Legislators understand the problems faced by the state’s colleges, Frank said. But constitutional spending limits place constraints on how they can dole out funds.

Benson, who said he voted for TABOR, which requires voter approval of tax increases, said he couldn’t rule out an effort to boost taxes “if that is what it takes.”

“We have got to do something because we are in a world of hurt,” he said.

In lieu of public funding, universities hike tuition and seek business partnerships and corporate endowments, which CSU’s Frank explains.

The tuition increases are radically changing the way public universities are funded, Frank said.

“We have become complacent in the quiet, slow privatization of higher education,” Frank told a group of Rotarians in Steamboat Springs. “I don’t think that this is a decision that should be made unconsciously.

“The impact for a family paying their kids’ education is dramatic, so we have a decision to make. We don’t want to wake up one morning and say, you know, half our population can’t afford to go to school.”

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